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Barcelona Bayern 3 0 Analysis Essay

21.59

Now here's a thought ...

21.55

I've gone back to put photographs of the goals by the descriptions. We have a couple of things for you to read from our writers at Camp Nou. This is Richard Martin's Five things we learned and Henry Winter's match report.

Full time

What a tremendous game. Bayern were bafflingly open both at the beginning and at the end of the match. They made some chances and played well at times, particularly at the beginning of the second half but they tired and began to look heavy-legged, the last thing you want to be in the Nou Camp. Bernat and Boateng got away with fannying about a couple of times but when Dani Alves took advantage to feed Messi, Barcelona never looked back. Next Tuesday Bayern will have to score three goals and keep a clean sheet just to force extra-time. Wihout Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery I can't see them scoring never mind keeping the Messi-Suarez-Neymar trident at bay.

GOAL!! Barcelona 3-0 Bayern Munich (Neymar) Uncharacteristic naivety from Bayern Munich who piled forward in search of the away goal. They lose the ball on their left, the ball is passed up to Suarez just inside the Barcelona half and he is fouled by Schweinsteiger to stop the break but the ball rebounds to Messi. The ref signals advantage and Messi offloads to Neymar 30 yards from goal. For once Neuer opts to keep instead of sweep because the break is so quick and Neymar draws the keeper out and slots a shot past him. Guardiola leaps in exasperation.

The crowd sing the Barca anthem then whistle for time as Bayern attack.

90 min

Free-kick for Barca on the left after Suarez is shoved over. Xavi takes it and crosses into the box. Bayern clear. Others would have dug foundations by the corner flag for the four minutes of added time.

88 min

There's a delay because Dani Alves has split his lip, and Barcelona use the opportunity to sent Bartra on.

86 min

Iniesta goes off and Rafinha - the brother of Bayern's Thiago - comes on.

84 min

Chance of a third for Barcelona who are not so much making hay but spinning it into gold down their right as Bernat and Boateng are run ragged. Iniesta pops a piercing pass into Suarez's path, 25 yards out. He's pushed wider than he would have wanted and blasts his shot over the bar.

82 min

Muller was subbed after the first goal, Gotze replacing him. Rakitic after the second, Xavi coming on.

GOAL!! Barcelona 2-0 Bayern Munich (Messi) Bloody hell! What a goal. What a goal. Takes the ball on the right from Rakitic, glides into the box, nutmegs Boateng who is left on his backside, then with Neuer coming out to try to close the angle, Messi dinks it over him with his right foot. A sublime chip finish to end an exquisite dribble.

GOAL!! Barcelona 1-0 Bayern Munich (Messi) Bernat dallies on the ball about 20 yards upfield and is robbed by Dani Alves who rolls the ball inside to Messi. he takes a touch, opens his body and strokes a powerful shot in a velvet glove past Neuer at the near post before he can move. Such an elegant finish but blistering, too. The paradox of Messi's shooting

75 min

Clever ball from Lahm on the edge of the box as the ball is headed out and he shapes to shoot then shuttles it inside for Schweinsteiger who chips it over the top for Lahm's run but he rarely shoots and doesn't so here, squaring it for Muller but the defence is so crowded he can't get it through.

72 min

Shot from Thiago goes bobbling through the box after being deflected and though it loses its power Ter Stegen still has to scramble and dive down low to his left to save it.

68 min

The free kick is cleared for a corner which is saved. Barca break, lose it so Bayern regroup and progress up the right until stopped by Neymar wunning over and snapping his foot down on Thiago as the latter held the ball up. The referee blows for a foul and Neymar, who is peeved that he didn't get one a few seconds earlier, goes spare, running over to the refe and remonstrating with such pop-eyed rage and foaming mouth that he he talks himself into the book.

65 min

The interplay between Lewandowski and Muller has been very smooth, short passing and excellent penetrative runs. Pique, faced with Lewandowski 25 yards out and Muller breaking past him decides to take the centre-forward out with a flying foul for which he is justifiably booked.

63 min

Neymar is found by Rakitic on the left of the box after an intricate but helter skelter close-passing sequence that could have foundered at any minute. Rakitic got to the edge of the box and flicked it to his left. Rafinha rushed out to block so Neymar treid to use him as a training ground dummy and bend it round him but got underneath it and spanked it over the bar.

61 min

Neuerbauer saves the day as Der Kaiserkeeper races out of his area to stop a ball over the top for Neymar's run behind Boateng. He would have been one-on-one 25 yards from goal but for Neuer's anticipation.

59 min

A 20-yard shot! From Messi who has glided in from the flank with help from a one-two with Neymar in the D. He took the return and wrapped his left foot around it but knocks it straight down Neuer's throat.

57 min

Booking for Bernat who had Messi hareing away from him and shoved him over. It's wasted and Bayern who have been the better side break through Thiago who is halted by Rakitic's body check.

55 min

Xabi Alonso on halfway right by the touchline curls a pass between Jordi Alba and Mascherano that would have put Muller in the clear had Muller not jumped the gun and drifted offside.

53 min

Iniesta gets the benefit and the free-kick when he finds he can't run through the middle of Benatia. he bought that becausse he'd lost control and just ran into him. Birthday bowtie boy Dani Alves takes, 30 yards out, amd makes a hash of it, not getting the elevation required for a chip into the box from that distance.

51 min

Perhaps what we need is a 20-yard shot. There are so many blocked final passes as both sides, but mainly Barca, head into the box and Bayern retreat, hustling to intercept.

49 min

Much better from Bayern, pushing forward, pressing high, Schweinsteiger particularly hounding the Barcelona defence.

47 min

Xabi Alonso takes it, fires low into the wall and off it spins for a corner that Xabi Alonso, for it is he again, floats into Ter Stegen's hands.

46 min

The half-time verdicts of Jamie Carragher and Jamie Redknapp were that Guardiola's 3-4-3 that began the game and lasted 15 minutes was 'stupid'. Thierry Henry thought it was 'brave'. Bayern have a free-kick after Dani Alves brings down Lewandowski to the left of centre, 22 yards out.

We should have had goals. Here are the best chances.

Luis Suarez

Neymar

and Dani Alves

Half-time

Some half that was. Not at all the beauty contest we were told it would be but slick and mesmerising at times and always watchable. Very entertaining.

44 min

Neymar slow-slow-quick-quick-blisteringly quicks his way into the box from the left, leaving Rafinha trailing and panting and squares to Suarez who shoots despite Benatia standing half a metre at most infront of him. Once again Suarez has to groove to shin music as it is blocked by a pair of quickly shut legs. He'll nutmeg someone sooner or later given the law of averages and the vast number of times he tries to do it.

41 min

Neymar drives into the box on the left, Rafinha fronts him up so it's laid off to Suarez in the centre but his stabbed shot is blocked and Messi can't trap the rebound.

38 min

Rather a petulant foul from Rakitic on Xabi Alonso, raking his studs down his shin after they come together iin a challenge. Seconds later it's Suarez's turn to be fouled on the right about 20 yards from goal. The free-kick is wasted but they win a throw and Messi goes on a dazzling, loopy dribble, eventually rolling it back to Iniesta who scooped a gorgeous pass over Boateng for Alves's dart in from the right. The full-back controls it on his chest and shoots as he falls from five yards, Neuer spreads himself and dives low to his right to save with his right palm. Brilliant play. Brilliant save.

36 min

Neuer sets a sparse wall so he can see the ball all the way and it works, Messi curling a shot that the keeper can bound across his goalline to catch by his left post.

33 min

Bayern's reorganisation into a 4-3-3 has helped them get a foothold back in the game but Barca are pressing their defence like angry wasps, Xabi Alonso sweeping up after Messi gets through but he is harrassed at speed by five players and loses possession. Barca lose 10 yards but win a free-kick, 25 yards out to the right of centre after Xabi Alonso fouls Messi and is booked.

30 min

Jordi Alba wins the ball, plays it inside then takes it back on the left but his cross doesn't beat the first defender who clears and Bayern break, Lewandowski holding it up the right and looking to win the corner but has to settle for a throw-in.

27 min

In comes the corner and Suraez heads it over the bar. Given it's the diddies v the daddies in terms of height, a headed goal from a set-piece is not something Bayern would have been able to wear without blushes.

25 min

Suarez-Messi-Neymar fill in two sides of the triangle but the final dinked ball from Messi into the box for Neymar is turned towrads goal and blocked by Neuer's leg. He clears and Busquets wins it, spraying a pass up the left for Jordi Alba who reaches it a yard before it skips out of play. He crosses low and hard and Boateng has to knock it over his own bar from two yards.

23 min

Bayern free-kick from 25 yards after Mascherano's foul on Muller. Xabi Alonso takes it after a dummy from Thiago but they misread the signal and stay in their blocks when he chips it deep into the box so it bounces out harmlessly.

20 min

It's settled down now that Bayern have tightened up but still Messi can make space on the right by wending a sepenetine run, the ball under his immaculate control with that wand of a left foot, jinking past Xabi Alonso and Bernat. He opens his body to curl a cross-cum-shot past the far post.

17 min

They were getting such a beasting that Guardiola has had to change it - switching to a flat back four. And Bayern get up the right with Rafinha's switch to right-back helping. He feeds Muller who spurts past Jordi Alba and clips a centre across the six-yard box. Lewandowski slides in at the near post and slices his finish past the far stick.

15 min

Barcelona are all over Bayern now, Suraex breaking down the right of the box, riding lunges from Boateng and Lahm that he could have used to trip him, to get to the byeline and cross for Neymar who bursts into the six-yard box to tap it in but Rafinha's toe saves the day.

12 min

Guardiola's tactics were almost exposed as the Emperor's New Clothes there when Boateng steps up, misses his marking duty in Suarez who breaks through the middle. He strides into the box with Messi peeling off to his left. Two v one but Suarez goes for the shot and clatters it into Neuer's legs as he tried to put it to the keeper's right. Neuer did the splits to save that, at the expense of his baritone voice. He's a soprano now.

10 min

This is ridiculous, the tempo is so high, Bayern are piling into tackles and teh ball is pinging from one end to the other with Lewandowski now free on the left but his cross is battered away.

8 min

Neymar makes a split down the left with Messi on the ball 40 yards from goal but his intended throughball is blocked by Boateng - Messi claims it washis hand but the ref doesn't agree.

6 min

Guardiola has certainly foxed Barca with this system and the home side look a little non-plussed so far with the high line and this man-to-man marking, three at the back retreating when Messi, Suarez and Neymar race forward. They have three v three after Lewandowski's shot from 25 yards is blocked and Suarez scuds a low shot from 18 yards that Neuer easily saves.

4 min

Change all that systems analysis Bayern are actiually playing three at the back with Thiago as a riught-sided midfielder and Bernat on the left in a 3-4-3. Suarez sniffs a ball knocked too far infront of him in the box, pelts after it but it's always going to get to Neuer first. Boateng leans into him and he hits the deck, turning to remonstrate with the centre-back and referee. No chance of a penalty there.

2 min

Chip up the middle from Rakitic for Neymar catches the Brazilian offside as Bayern seem to be playing a high trap and going man-to-man with Schweinsteiger sitting on Busquets.

1 min

Bayern kick off, having overloaded the left, with seven players in that half of the field as they chip the ball up the top but are squeezed out of space and Barca have a goalkick. Rafinha is playing at centre-back, Boateng at right-back.

19.44

But before we do, here's Godwin George

What a change to watch two scintillating/technically-great semi-finals compared to the nonsense that is dished out in the Premier League week in-week out. Unfortunately, my addiction to football requires following each and every PL game but nothing in there gives a high like "Beautiful" football can.

19.43

They're waving the big centre-circle ball-trapaulin. Guardiola walks down the tunnel after the players. We're nearly ready.

19.39

Robert Lewandowski gets warmed up while simultaneously auditioning for a part in the remake of Eyes Wide Shut.

19.35

Instructions on how to hold up a card follow. Més que un club.

19.30

We have some correspondence:

Srikar Kovvali writes

We're up for another scintillating Champions League Semifinal here today. With Barcelona in red-hot form, I would expect them see this through with Suarez and Messi on the scoresheet. A few interesting match-ups in this game as well with the MSN looking to test Bayern's back line. As for Pep Guardiola, he should expect a welcoming return to the ground he once ruled. Really excited for this one. Should be an absolute cracker!

And John McEnerney

Evening from The Med Rob, looking at the other semi last night the winner will come from tonight's tie. My better half who is 5 months pregnant with twin boys & is Catalan doesn't need much to drive her around the bend these days so I'd say I could say Pep at least 10 times really quickly & then it's over. Both back 4's are prone to leaking a goal or two, I can see a few goals going in tonight. Got it wrong thinking away win last night thinking a score draw tonight 2-2. Enjoy it.

I will, John. You're pulse rate would have to be dangerously low not to.

19.15

"iPhone, iPhone in my hand, who is the fairest in the land?" Champion Löwer, no ease up tonight, no/ Champion Löwer, gonna make you feel alright, yeah-hey/ Champion Löwer, no ease up tonight, no/ Champion Löwer, nice me up tonight

19.08

And for you friends of Paulaner, here is Henry winter's match report frorm the first leg of the semi-final in 2013, AKA the evisceration.

This was both brutal and beautiful. This was Bayern Munich’s very modern machine at its very best, full of fluid counter-attacking, intelligent running and the appliance of good technique at pace. Bayern pressed hard, broke cleverly and did to Lionel Messi and company what Barcelona have been doing to others for years.

Read the whole article here.

19.05

Fancy a little light reading before the match? Of course you do. Words > bantz. We'll start you off with Barcelona's 4-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the home leg of the quarter-final in 2009 - near peak Pep - from Oliver Brown

With as fabulous a first-half exhibition as you could ever aspire to see, Pep Guardiola's team laid down an aesthetic yardstick that even Manchester United, the holders, would struggle to surpass. The hegemony of English teams in the Champions League has been debated long and laboriously but on this evidence its days are numbered. To be precise, it potentially has just 48 days left, until a glorious Catalan coronation in Rome.

Read the whole article here.

18.55

Dani Alves has form, of course. Remember the Clasico?

18.51

What do you make of that, then? Bayern Munich going with four midfielders. No starting place for Maracana Gotze?

18.50

In the traditional style

Barcelona Ter Stegen; Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Subs Bravo, Vermaelen, Bartra, Rafinha, Xavi, Adriano, Pedro.

Bayern Munich Neuer; Rafinha, Boateng, Benatia, Bernat; Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Xabi Alonso; Thiago; Müller, Lewandowski.
Subs Reina, Dante, Martinez, Pizarro, Gaudino, Götze, Weiser.

Team news

18.20

Good evening and welcome to our coverage of the first leg of the second Champions League semi-final between Barcelona and Bayern Munich from Camp Nou or the Nou Camp as we used to call it on the day that Carl Shutt raced through ... ach, you know the rest. But tonight, nearly 23 years on from that night, it's Pepfest for Pepophiles as the team that Pep built take on the team Pep is building. Everyone seems to refer to him as Pep all the time now. 'Pep' this, 'Pep' that. 'Pep' the other. Bigger than Guardiola, we are living in Pep's world. Pep the philosopher prince, the heir of Cruyff. And so it will be interesting to see what happens tonight - it is this humble correspondent's view that Barcelona 2015 are even better to watch than Barcelona 2010, that Ivan Rakitic, Neymar and Luis Suarez have given them a greater incisive edge. JJ Bull thinks they are not as easy on the eye as they were under Guardiola, but could be just as effective. Have a read, see what you think.

Pep Guardiola insists he is "here to win" as he marks his return to Barcelona in tonight's Champions League semi-final at the Nou Camp.

The 44-year-old, now the Bayern Munich coach, is preparing to go head to head with the club with which he is synonymous for the first time.

Guardiola won 14 titles, including two Champions Leagues, during four golden years in charge at the Nou Camp, where he also enjoyed a glittering playing career.

The Spaniard is now hoping to guide Bayern to similar success and finds Barca, now managed by his former team-mate Luis Enrique, standing in the way of a Champions League final appearance.

"I am here not as a tribute, but I'm here to do my job, with Bayern Munich to reach the final," he said.

• Guardiola on Barcelona: his Catalan career in quotes

"Barcelona was the most important part in my life. Barcelona was everything, but I'm here to win."

While the Bayern boss is wary of the threat of three-time world player of the year Lionel Messi, he admits the Argentina international is "just too good" to be stopped.

He added: "It's almost impossible to play defensively against Barcelona defence. We have to attack. We need to score in Barcelona.

How Luis Enrique made Barca more ruthless

"There is no defensive system that can stop him. Messi is unstoppable. He is just too good. But we can try (and hope that) he does not come into (possession of) the ball."

Bayern have enjoyed a fine season and the Bundesliga title is already secured, but their form has just tailed off. Borussia Dortmund ended their treble hopes in the DFB-Pokal last week and they also head to Spain after a defeat at Bayer Leverkusen.

In addition to that they have a number of injury issues, but the meeting is nevertheless a mouthwatering one.

Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski is expected to defy facial injuries to play. The Poland international fractured his jaw and cheekbone in the cup defeat by Dortmund but could start wearing a protective mask.

Guardiola says he will leave the decision over Lewandowski until the last minute, adding: "I'll talk to him. I want to know how he's feeling with the mask. Of course we need 11 players who are 100 per cent.


Robert Lewandowski is expected to play with a face mask

"If he is fit, he will play, sure, but that just depends on his fitness."

Lewandowski's presence will give Guardiola's men a lift with Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, David Alaba and Sebastian Rode missing through injury.

Boateng faces a tough task as he comes up against Barca's formidable attacking trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar but the World Cup-winner is not fazed.

Boateng said: "It's not just their strikers - Barcelona have world-class players throughout their whole team.

"We know that it's going to be difficult at the Nou Camp, but we are Bayern Munich.

"We are heading there to get a result. We desperately want to make the final."

Enrique, meanwhile, insists the last-four clash is about far more than Guardiola's return to the Nou Camp, and said: "We aren't going into this as a game against Pep.

"He is the number one for what he has achieved and he's a friend, but this is such an important game for all Barca fans that it should be more important than any specific people.

"It's nice for the players to meet Guardiola again, but they know that this game is more important than just that.

"Guardiola knows most of our players but I don't think that will be decisive. There are many other factors."

Primera Division leaders Barcelona have their sights on treble success this season and go into the game in superb form.

They have won six in succession in all competitions and not conceded for five games. Their last two results have seen them thrash Getafe 6-0 and Cordoba 8-0.

Enrique said: "I love the word 'treble', but there's still a long way to go."

Barcelona will be without defender Jeremy Mathieu due to an Achilles injury but are otherwise at full strength.

Barcelona's 3-0 victory over Bayern Munich on Wednesday was one of the most thrilling football matches you'll witness in this -- or any other -- season. It was an incredible spectacle: a match played at breakneck speed between two teams determined to press high, and pass from deep, in which the relentless pace only highlighted the sheer technical quality of the footballers on show.

The reason was fairly obvious: Pep Guardiola, on his first return to the Camp Nou, was determined to play the "Barcelona way" with Bayern Munich.

His predecessor, Jupp Heynckes, thrashed Barcelona two years ago with the complete opposite approach, by unleashing a distinctly anti-Barcelona, "underdog" strategy based around physicality, counterattacks and set pieces. It wasn't much different from the approach used by the majority of bottom-half La Liga clubs against the Catalan giants. The difference, of course, was that Bayern carried out the approach ruthlessly with world-class footballers.

Guardiola was attempting to out-Barca Barcelona, something that has happened extremely rarely since Guardiola took charge of the club in 2008. Throughout the reigns of Guardiola, the late Tito Vilanova and now Luis Enrique (Gerardo Martino was more cautious, less Barca), they've sometimes lost against teams who play in the opposite manner, but they're rarely outgunned in "their" type of match.

Which, in fairness, is partly because few teams have the confidence to play Barcelona in open, attack-minded, high-tempo games of football. But when it happens, it produces the most incredibly entertaining matches -- games seemingly from a different world.

There are basically four signs a team is attempting to outplay Barcelona at their own game. First, they press high up the pitch, attempting to stop Barca and building passing moves from the defence. Second, they play out from the back and feed the ball into midfield, rather than hitting long passes towards attack. Third, they play a high defensive line. Fourth, they attempt to exploit the space in behind Barca with quick, pass-and-move football.

Here are a handful of examples.

Barcelona 3-1 Villarreal, La Liga, November 2010

This might not have been a Clasico or a high-profile Champions League tie, but it might be the most impressive display of technical football witnessed in the modern era. This Villarreal side was utterly superb, with Borja Valero and Bruno Soriano controlling things from the centre, Santi Cazorla and Cani drifting in from wide, and Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar up front. It was a remarkably fluid 4-4-2, or 4-2-2-2 as the wide players drifted inside, but the forwards drifted wide to retain the width. It meant Villarreal often ended up with four in midfield, and two wide forwards.

Juan Carlos Garrido's side played an extremely high defensive line, which was breached early on with David Villa's opener, and Pedro Rodriguez had a similar goal wrongly disallowed for offside. But their passing opened up Barca regularly by knocking the ball in behind, with Rossi and Nilmar running riot and the latter scoring with a clever solo run.

The game was eventually won by a quite outstanding Messi goal, as he played two consecutive one-twos (a three-four, if you like) with Pedro before chipping over the advancing goalkeeper Diego Lopez, in similar fashion to the way he beat Manuel Neuer on Wednesday night. Messi's third goal was more fortunate, and a harsh reflection on Villarreal's efforts.

Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona, Champions League round of 16, February 2011

Arsenal had been absolutely battered in this fixture the previous season, losing 6-3 in the quarterfinals and only coming away with a lucky 2-2 draw at home thanks to Manuel Almunia's heroics. They simply couldn't cope with Barcelona's press, which was more intense than ever during the first 15 minutes.

This time, they adapted. There were two crucial developments, both involving the pressing. First, they realised they needed to press themselves, and therefore the forwards pushed up, got tight and prevented Barca building from the back. Second, they coped with the pressing better, with Jack Wilshere turning in a superb performance to evade Barcelona's midfield pressure -- it remains his most outstanding display to date.

Again, there was the problem with the high line. Messi and Villa both had one-on-one chances: Messi missed, Villa scored. And in truth, Arsenal got back into the game partly because Guardiola went too defensive, unusually inviting pressure with defensive changes rather than punishing Arsenal for pushing forward. Arsene Wenger's side wrestled control after Guardiola had effectively abandoned his usual style. Still, Arsenal ultimately lost again to Barcelona in the series, as the Catalan club would win 3-1 in the second leg at Camp Nou.

Athletic Bilbao 2-2 Barcelona, La Liga, November 2011

Possibly the ultimate Guardiola game, as it was the first time he encountered one of his coaching inspirations, Marcelo Bielsa. They'd spent hours discussing tactics before Guardiola took charge of Barcelona, and this was essentially an exhibition of pressing: man-for-man marking across the pitch, similar to the first 15 minutes of Wednesday's game.

Guardiola fielded an unusual front three of Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Adriano, probably because he wanted them to drop deep away from Athletic's press, and rotate positions with midfielders to drag opponents out of position. It proved difficult, however, partly because torrential rain in northern Spain wreaked havoc.

Athletic went 2-1 up, partly thanks to a freak own goal by Gerard Pique, and only conceded to Messi in the final minutes. Guardiola had been forced to increase his attacking threat with three positive substitutions: Alexis Sanchez for Xavi, Villa for Adriano and then finally Thiago Alcantara for Pique. It eventually worked, but Barca had struggled in midfield.

"We've never played against a team who were so intense, so aggressive, and has denied us so much space," said Guardiola. "How can we not be happy with those 22 players out there? It was spectacular ... when the players put on a show like that, there's not much more you can say."

Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid, Copa del Rey, January 2012

The ongoing tactical battle between Guardiola and Jose Mourinho was overshadowed by their personal squabbles, which is a shame, as it was a truly fascinating series of games. Real initially tried to play positively against Barcelona and got thrashed 5-0, so Mourinho went into his shell for subsequent games, often playing three defensive midfielders and no striker, with Cristiano Ronaldo up front.

By this point, however, Mourinho had regained the confidence to play Barcelona properly in this Copa del Rey second leg. Ronaldo was on the left, Karim Benzema was up front, and Kaka and Mesut Ozil provided the attacking midfield quality. They pushed up, pressed four-versus-four, and reserve goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto's dodgy distribution meant Barcelona often conceded possession in deep positions. Real had chances.

Barcelona went into a two-goal lead before half-time, through a neat Pedro finish and a Dani Alves thunderbolt, but Real fought back in the second half having switched to something like a 4-2-4. Ronaldo and Benzema scored, and it was Barcelona who tired, having to hang on for a one-goal aggregate victory.

Barcelona 3-0 Bayern, Champions League semifinals, May 2015

Jump forward three years, and Guardiola is managing the opposition. His crucial decision was using a three-man defence from the outset, meaning Rafinha was marking Messi, Jerome Boateng was up against Luis Suarez, and Medhi Benatia up against Neymar. One mistake, and Barcelona forwards would be in -- and so it proved, with Suarez racing through for a one-on-one.

The three-man defence meant Bayern could press high up the pitch, and the game effectively saw man-marking across the field. However, concerns at the back meant Guardiola changed systems after 15 minutes, possibly something he'd planned before the game, which changed the match significantly, giving it a more defined structure.

Having been battered in the first quarter of an hour, it was actually the final quarter of an hour when Barca took control, largely thanks to Messi's brilliance.

----

The scorelines, of course, should only be part of the consideration. Tactical plans generally succeed or fail because of the players' ability (or otherwise) to carry them out. Still, it's rare that Barcelona have been genuinely outplayed at their own game, although it always creates wonderful games of football.

There's a slight contradiction, then: Barcelona's influence upon modern football is staggering, and has inspired various teams to copy them in different ways.

But, when facing Barca, you need to forget about that, find your area of comparative advantage and focus upon that. In this respect, the Bayern side of 2013 who were heavily inspired by Barca, until they actually played them, got it spot on.

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